Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | March 29, 2020

The Church Militant

Acts 13: 42-52

Rev. John Anderson

Bay Presbyterian Church

March 29, 2020

Introduction:            The Church’s One Foundation

  • Samuel Stone
  • Samuel Wesley
  • Two viruses during Stone’s years
    • Origin of the Species
    • Higher criticism
  • What is the Church
    • Jesus – the first to use the world Church
    • Eklesia – to call out
    • While alienated, God came and got us 
    • Somebody had to pay the debt.
      • I couldn’t and I can’t
      • But Christ did
    • Not specifically used in this passage
    • God doesn’t have to give us anything – just demand obeisance
    • God graciously gives us – oh so much more than Christ!       
  • A Hungry Church
    • Antioch Pisidia
    • The church worships and fasts
    • Synagogue
  • A Church in Transition
    • Paul and Barnabus had the whole city come out to hear them.
    • Christianity was transitioning from an ethnocentric religion to its own entity.
  • A Reproducing Church
    • In spite of the head winds created by the opposition, the church continued to spread.
    • No one thwarts God’s purposes.
  • Take Away
    • The church is a gathered people and not a building.
    • The church should expect push back.
    • Our task as the church is to worship, fast and pray, spread the word.

Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | March 20, 2020

Sermon: Be Still and Know

Great is Thy Faithfulness

“Great is Thy faithfulness, ” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.


“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness, ” Lord, unto me!

Rev. William Spink, Jr. Sunday, March 22, 2020


Genesis 3:15   15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 

Genesis 17:7   7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 

Psalm 111:1, 4b, 5-9  1Praise the Lord!  I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.  4b the Lord is gracious and merciful. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.  9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!

Exodus 6:2-8  2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’”

Deuteronomy 7:6-9  6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Joshua 1:9  9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 23  1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.  3 He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for  for his name’s sake.  4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for
you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  5 You prepare a table before me in the
presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 46:1-2, 7, 10-11  1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 10 “Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Isaiah 40:25-31    25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.  26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.  27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?  28 Have you not known? Have you not hear? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 41:10, 13  10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 13 For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

Isaiah 43:1-3a, 4  1  But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. 4 Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.

Jeremiah 29:10-14  10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Habakkuk 1: 2-4, 12   2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?  3 Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?   Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. 4 So the law is paralyzed,

and justice never goes forth.  For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

12 Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die.  O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.

Malachi 1:11  11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.

Romans 8:19-23  19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Galatians 4:4-7   4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba!  Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Isaiah 9:2, 6-7  2  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.  6 For you have rejected your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners.  7 Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots.  

John 1:1-4, 14   1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[a] from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 10:11, 27-29  11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

John 3:16  16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 14:1, 27  1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 16:33   33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Matthew 6:25-33   25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Romans 5:1-5  1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 8:15-18   15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:28-39  28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1  16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Our Heavenly Dwelling

5:1  For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

1 Peter 1:3-9  3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 John 3:2   2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Revelation 21:3-4   3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Acts 2:23-24, 36  23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Hebrews 1:1-3  1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Hebrews 11:1, 6  1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.    6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 12:1-2    1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Habakkuk 3:17-19    17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  19 God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

Psalm 73:23-26, 28   23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.  24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.  25 Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Lamentations 3:21-26   21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”  25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | March 18, 2020

The Bible and Retirement

A Biblical Rationale for Discussing Retirement

  • I. All of our time is important to God.
    • Ephesians 5: 16
    • Psalm 139: 16
    • Psalm 90: 12
  • II. God takes our work seriously.
    • Genesis 2 cultural mandate
    • Exodus 20 4th commandment
  • III. God calls us to be good stewards of our time, treasure, and talents.
    • Matthew 25
    • Colossians 3: 23
  • IV. Our lives are always to bring glory to God.
    • 1 Corinthians 10: 31
    • Matthew 5: 16
    • Psalm 34: 3
  • V. Idleness is condemned in the Old Testament and disciplined in the New Testament.
    • Proverbs 6
    • II Thessalonians 3: 6f
  • VI. The believer’s charge is to invest not indulge.
    • Galatians 5: 13
    • Philippians 3: 12-14
    • Hebrews 12: 1, 2
    • 1 Corinthians 15: 58
  • VII. Grace frees us from fear and equips us to be fruitful.
    • Matthew 6: 25f
    • John 15
    • Ephesians 2: 10


  1. What has been a significant surprise that you have experienced in retirement?
  2. What is something you fear(ed) as you approach(ed) retirement.
  3. What advice would you give someone nearing retirement?
  4. What has God taught you so far in your retirement season?
  5. Respond to the following: “Retirement is an opportunity to do all the things on our bucket list–as long as the money allows!”
  6. What is the hardest part of retirement?
  7. People often find their identity in their careers.  What challenge does that create as retirement becomes a reality?
  8. When you “retired,” how many more years did you expect to live?
  9. What are some of the difficulties often experienced in the retirement years? (medical, financial, housing, loss of loved ones, immobility, loneliness, downsizing, etc.)
  10. What difference does the gospel make to the retired?
  11. Can the retired still be useful to God? How so?
Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | June 25, 2018

Mere Christianity Book Study Schedule

Image result for mere christianity image

  Mere Christianity
Session 6:30 This week, we will study: Come this day having read:
1 16-May Our Sense of Right and Wrong Book 1, Chapters 1, 2, 3
2 30-May What is Behind our Sense of Right and Wrong Book 1, Chapters 4, 5
3 13-Jun The Rival Conceptions of God Book 2, Chapters 1, 2
4 20-Jun Free Will and the Shocking Alternative Book 2, Chapters 3, 4, 5
5 11-Jul Christian Behavior and the Great Sin of Pride Book 3, Chapters 1- 4,8
6 18-Jul The Christian Virtue of Hope Book 3, Chapters 10, 11, 12
7 1-Aug God in Three Persons Book 4, Chapters 1-7
8 15-Aug Counting the Cost Book 4, Chapters 8-11
Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | May 17, 2018


Passion, Cross, Good Friday

And to the issue—relevance—I will conclude with a quote:

“After all, who would put up with all life’s humiliations—the abuse from superiors, the insults of arrogant men, the pangs of unrequited love, the inefficiency of the legal system, the rudeness of people in office, and the mistreatment good people have to take from bad—when you could simply take out your knife and call it quits? Who would choose to grunt and sweat through an exhausting life, unless they were afraid of something dreadful after death, the undiscovered country from which no visitor returns, which we wonder about without getting any answers from and which makes us stick to the evils we know rather than rush off to seek the ones we don’t?

Fear of death makes us all cowards, and our natural boldness becomes weak with too much thinking.”


That quote, maybe you recognize it, –is from Hamlet. I updated the language but I think it is an accurate characterization of Shakespeare’s writing in 1599. When we think of resurrection—when we think of the disposition of our immortal soul. When we think about eternity…it was relevant in 30 A.D. and in 1599 and in 2018.

Pastor John Anderson

Bay Presbyterian Church

Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | April 18, 2018

Bootstrap Christianity

Light Paint, Leather Boot, Boot, Shoe, Shoes, Footwear


There are times, when we tell ourselves, or perhaps we’ve heard it from some pulpit, “that we need to work harder for the Lord; that we need to be more faithful, more holy; more generous in our giving, more loving and on and on.

Often, our response to these demands is to “try harder, to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, to do better”.  We grit our emotional teeth and flex our spiritual muscles and make new resolutions of undying faithfulness.

But how do we accomplish what we’ve been unwilling or unable to accomplish in the past?  Guilt works to a point, but guilt is a poor long-term motivator; we soon tire or become bitter when guilt is the key motivator.

It is of key importance that Paul “urges” the “believer” – “IN VIEW OF GOD’S ‘MERCIES’, to offer their bodies as living sacrifices.  It is so important to notice that Paul does not demand unqualified obedience, but that the believer would see their life through the lens of God’s mercies to us.  By the “mercies” of God we are forgiven of sin, not just past sins, but the entirety of our sin that damns us.  We are ‘declared’ – ‘forever perfect’ – by our faith in Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf. (Heb 10:14).  When God in His “mercy” sent His Son to die in our place, He ‘lavished’ His love on us who were fallen sinners, outcasts, under that penalty of death.  ‘Now’, we are called “children of God”. (1 John 3:1) “We are accepted ‘in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6 KJV) For the believer, there has been a paradigm shift; whereas before he/she was under the wrath of God, “dead in sin” (Eph 2:1), now the believer is ‘accepted in the Beloved (in Christ).  Charles Spurgeon elaborates on this passage to say that the believer is not only ‘accepted in the Beloved’, but that God ‘delights’ in the born-again believer, who is now a “new creation in Christ Jesus”. (2 Cor 5:17)

In my own war with sin, it has become increasingly important to me to realize that “I have been ‘bought’ with (at an extravagant) price”, and that I am now to honor God with my body” (1 Cor 6:20)

I now am motivated to live for Christ, not so much out of guilt, but out of love, out of gratitude to my Savior, and not just poor boot-strap duty.

Jim Diller

Bible Teacher

Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | April 10, 2018

God Provides the Miracle

Jordan River

God Provides the Miracle

After the death of Moses God told Joshua to get up and lead the Israelites across the Jordan to the land He promised them. He told Joshua that no man would be able to stand against him all the days of his life; and that He would not leave or forsake him (Joshua 1:1-9).
This is God’s second call to the Israelites to go to the promise land; the land the people longed for and had been promised, a land flowing with milk and honey. I have often heard others tell me they were stuck in their own personal wilderness and were waiting and praying for God to bring them into a type of promise land filled with their own perception of milk and honey. In our instantaneous technology world, we too often naively think that entering the promise land is similar to the waving of some magic wand and “poof!” there we are.
Did you ever notice that when God rescued the Israelites from Egypt and they did all their complaining . . . that what they experienced really was hard? Although God could have, He did not transport them directly from Egypt to the Promise Land like they do on Star Trek. When they finally arrive at the very edge of the promise land, the land God promised and told them to go in and get….they refused. They were afraid; instead of keeping their eyes on God, they were like Peter when walking on the water, who focused on the wind instead of Christ (Matthew 14:30). How often have we failed to enter the open doors of our “promise land” because our eyes were on the looming obstacles in front of us, instead of Christ who strengthens us to do all things (Philippians 4:13)?
In Joshua 1:1-9 the Israelites were given a second opportunity to enter the promise land. They were not going to make the same mistake their parents had; they were done with the wilderness. They met the same obstacles and weaknesses that faced their parents, but chose to focus on God. Too often as we read this account of history we focus on the instantaneous miracles of the parting of the Jordan and the destruction of the walls of Jericho, but forget that the priests had to practice faith and trust in God as they put their feet in the water before the Jordan parted; as well as had to be battle ready when the walls of Jericho fell (Joshua 3 & 6). God keeps His promises and does provide the supernatural miracles, but more often than not we have to participate within the miracle.
Rachel Diller
Women’s Ministry Director

Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | January 4, 2018

“O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings”

“O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings”

 Just shy of 2 months ago we observed the 500th anniversary of the opening salvo of what has become known as the Reformation.  Begun by an obscure monk who, at the outset, was pointing out certain irregularities he noted as they related to his own church denomination.  That set off about 150 years of rolling reform throughout the center of the western world.  The church was shaken to its core as a millennium of theological formation and political connectiveness began to unwind.  And at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century a movement began of such consequence that historians have named it.  They call it the Enlightenment—so called because its patriarchs and matriarchs believed that it was on age of setting aside the darkness of God and religion and the dawning of science and Reason.  You can’t see it, but in my notes Reason is spelled with a capital “R.”  That is because for most of the drivers of the Enlightenment, “Reason was their god, and man was the measure of all things.”  That quote was first attributed to a Greek philosopher named Protagoras and it means that the individual human being rather than a god or an unchanging moral law, is the ultimate source of VALUE!

I think “man is the measure…” is a pretty good descriptive phrase for the Enlightenment. 

Why is this important?  Well—if you have been thinking about the dates, you will realize that there were other things going on in the western world while the Enlightenment was spreading.  Over in England John Mason Neale, Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts were breaking out of Cromwellian narrowness as it relates to the worship of the church.  Isaac Watts was publishing his breakout hymnal featuring interpretive lyrics related to Scripture.  At the same time—a composer in England was writing keyboard suites, cantatas and operas.  His name was George Handel and of him Ludwig von Beethoven said he was “the greatest composer that ever lived.”

Handel’s life raged while his continent was aflame with the debate of the ages:  Christian theism or humanistic atheism—that was the great debate of Handel’s age—sound familiar?  Many Enlightenment thinkers—contemporaries of Handel—had backgrounds in the sciences and associated scientific advancement with the overthrow of Christianity and traditional authority in favor of the development of free speech and thought.  This could be our times—but it was the time of George Frederic Handel.

Born in Germany into a Christian home, Handel’s early works were largely operas, but rising costs of operatic talent drove Handel to other areas of endeavor.  He began composing oratorios for the church which enabled volunteers to do the work of the expensive operatic players.

Handel could be—well let’s say—passionate.  He once fought a duel with swords over seating in the orchestra pit.  His opponent thrust what would have been a fatal blow, but his sword was blunted by a metal button on Handel’s coat.

That passion flowed to many areas of his life—he was benevolent to a fault—a portion of his Messiah proceeds went to a debtor’s prison and hospital.  But the passion also served him well in his creative work.  A lyricist, Charles Jennens, who sought to push back against the increasingly hostile secular culture compiled scripture after scripture in the hopes that Handel would like it and arrange music and words in such a fashion to glorify the Genius and Skill of the One who fashioned the heavens and the earth and who shall reign forever and ever.  He scored…big time.  Handel read those scriptures and God inspired him—His passionate response was to write from—literally morning until evening and the Messiah, in its entirety, was completed in only 23 days.

Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | December 22, 2017

“Joy to the World”

Joy to the World

December 17, 2017

A couple of weeks ago we began talking about a struggle in the church; the two opponents being—on the one hand traditional; and on the other hand, contemporary.  It certainly is a struggle today, though, in my opinion the hard edge of the battle has softened somewhat.  Many, if not most churches have arrived at a more “middlin” ground.  Hard core, contemporary churches are singing songs like:

“Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”               1870

“Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine”           1873

“Be Thou My Vision”                                    6th Century

Of course, the instrumentation is different—maybe the pace and arrangement, but the sentiment is there—some going back to the 6th century.  I would call our service a “blended” service which is to say we are substantively both traditional and contemporary.  I like to think we take the best of both.

But when we raised the issue two weeks ago we spoke more of the traditional side.  John Mason Neale took the 8th century chant and made it into a hymn—a seven stanza hymn, as there had been seven distinct one line chants (one for each day of the week) he combined into “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

Today, I want to go the other way.  We had mentioned Isaac Watts in passing as representative of the contemporary side of things.

Isaac Watts came on the scene in England in the last part of the 17th century and 1st part of 18th century.  He was a contemporary of Charles Wesley and every bit his equal in hymnody.  Watts’ father was a separatist—a non-conformist, which was a particular…we will call it denomination…but it was a grouping of people who refused to acknowledge the king as the head of the church and rejected the church of England, also known as the Anglican church.  John Watts, Isaacs’ father, had been incarcerated twice for his non-conformist ways.  Consequently, Isaac could not attend either Oxford or Cambridge, which required Anglican heritage, even though he had early distinguished himself as a theologian and logician and quite a defender of the faith.  He did attend a university and eventually was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree.

You will recall that, according to Oliver Cromwell, the non-conformist church in Watt’s and Wesley’s day, had been compelled by strict civil laws, to sing only psalms in the church.  Bring Psalter.  The Scottish church had created what is still called the metric psalter, that is hymnology in metrical verse.  Here is an example: “All Creatures That on Earth do Dwell.”  You have sung metric psalms before.

In 1719, Watts began scandalizing the church by publishing what he titled: “The Psalms of David Initiated in the Language of the New Testament.”  In this hymnal, he “interpreted” the Psalms through the eyes of the New Testament and in so doing he invented the English modern hymn and the contemporary vs traditional debate began.

One of Watts critics was a fellow non-conformist, Thomas Bradbury, who called Watts work product “Whims” instead of “hymns.”  Bradbury accused Watts of imagining he was King David, to which Watts replied:

“You tell me that I rival it with David, whether he or I be the sweet Psalmist of Israel.  I abhor the thought; while yet at the same time, I am fully persuaded that the Jewish Psalm book (Psalms) was never designed to be the only Psalter of the Christian Church.”

In 1719, in his scandalous hymnal, Watts included a piece entitled “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom.”  However, it didn’t really catch on until perhaps 75 years later when an American Church musician named Lowell Mason applied Watt’s lyrics to some adapted musical phrases from Handel’s Messiah.  It was retitled “Joy to the World” and Watts lyrical adaptation of Psalm 98 with Handel’s musical mastery was an effective combination and “Joy to the Word” has become internationally famous.


Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | December 14, 2017

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

December 3, 2017

You have, no doubt, been splashed by what is, tongue in cheek, referred to as “Worship Wars.”  You know…Traditional or Contemporary.  We have been effected by it.  Very early in our existence, a young adult—perhaps 22 years old, approached me and said she would no longer attend our church—unless we began introducing guitars and a drum into our musical repertoire.  I thanked her for her input.  Of course, she only came a half dozen times a year, so I didn’t pay much attention to her.  That isn’t who I am and that is not who we are as a church.  We are not belligerent…I just prefer a more classical tone.

What you should know is that “Worship Wars” over music in the church is NOT new.  When the pipe organ was introduced into the church–in some quarters it was considered scandalous.  And in the early 18th century a composer and lyricist came along who also scandalized the church with his lyrical prosaic verse and assigned to swinging melodies: “O God Our Help in Ages Past”…”When I Survey”…”Joy to the World.”

His name was Isaac Watts.  And he was a purveyor of contemporary music.  There were some who preferred more traditional, liturgical music.  Of course, retrospectively, we don’t distinguish between Isaac Watts, the contemporary artist, and the more traditional artists.  I suppose 200 years from now, people will laugh at us and wonder what the big stink was between Keith Getty, Chris Tomlin—William Cooper, John Newton and Isaac Watts.

Among those holding up the traditional side was an Anglican Cleric by the name of John Mason Neale.  He was English, born in London in 1818.  Anglican is the name of the Church of England that Henry VIII started when Pope Clement refused to grant him an annulment from Catherine of Aragon.  Now 300 years down the line, John Neale comes on the scene as a rising light.  He was a brilliant student at Cambridge and a prize-winning poet.  In search of a more traditional and liturgical mood—different than some of the music of his day—Neale went back in time.  In the 800’s – 1,000 years previous—Latin hymns were sung each day during Christmas vespers.  Vesper is from the Greek—meaning “evening”—and the church would gather folks from December 17-23 in the evenings for evening prayers.  The Latin hymns were called the great anthems or the “O” anthems because each of them began with “O.”

In the 13th century the hymns were collected and put into its present form.  Neale—who like to put ancient Latin and Greek hymns into English—found this collection of “O” hymns and translated them into English– His original version—has seven verses (one for each day 12/17-12/23).

Today I want to take a peek at this “O” hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and see from where the ancients drew their inspiration.  By the way, we remember John Mason Neale’s work whenever we sing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “Good Christian Men Rejoice” and “All Glory Laud and Honor” on Palm Sunday—all, in classic Neale style, traditional hymns.

Older Posts »